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New phase of construction on Hudson Tunnel Project begins

After more than a decade of false starts, construction of the long-delayed Gateway Project that will replace the subway tunnels beneath the Hudson River is set to begin with an additional $3.8 billion in federal funding. Sen. Chuck Schumer, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other officials joined Amtrak and Hudson Tunnel Project Sponsor the Gateway Development Commission (GDC) to celebrate the milestone on Nov. 3.

“This is a day that I know that this city, this region, this country has been looking for and waiting for for a very long time,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said at an event in the Hudson Yards neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan

The Gateway Project is key to easing congestion under the Hudson River, a choke point on the Northeast Corridor that runs between Boston and Washington, the country’s busiest passenger-train route, carrying more than 750,000 daily passengers. The existing tunnel, which is owned by Amtrak and also used by New Jersey Transit, is more than a century old and increasingly unreliable.

The initial phase of construction will build underground casings for trains to pass through, connecting the new tunnel to New York City’s Pennsylvania Station.

At the ceremony, Schumer and Buttigieg also announced an additional $3.8 billion of federal funding for the project at the ceremony. Earlier this year, the Gateway tunnel received a $6.9 billion federal grant commitment from the Federal Transit Administration, bringing the total contribution from Washington to more than $11 billion, or about 70 percent of the project, Schumer said at the event.

New York and New Jersey have agreed to split the remaining costs.

The Hudson Yards Concrete Casing is an essential rail right-of-way preservation project that will clear the way for the Hudson Tunnel Project’s full construction. The first two sections are complete.

In January 2023, President Biden announced that the Hudson Yards Concrete Casing – Section 3 project would receive $292 million through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Mega Grant Program, which was created under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Gateway’s future is assured and the most important public works project in America is all systems go. I’ve long cautioned the potential failure of one or both of the only two rail tunnels running under the Hudson River is one of the most pressing issues facing New York City right now,” Schumer said at the event.  
Secretary Buttigieg said, “The Gateway program is critically important not just to this city and this region, but to our entire country’s economic security …. Today, we celebrate a major step toward completing the new Hudson River Tunnel, as we begin work on the third and final part of the concrete casing that will eventually connect Gateway Hudson Tunnel to Penn Station.”

“After decades of delays, this project is finally moving forward. The Hudson Tunnel is a nationally important piece of infrastructure and will bring millions of visitors to New York every year,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
“On the heels of Tonnelle Avenue’s Notice to Proceed, today we have achieved yet another pivotal milestone toward the nation’s most critical infrastructure project. The Hudson Yards Concrete Casing will quite literally pave the way toward the construction of the long-awaited Hudson Tunnel, an integral element of the Gateway Program that will increase connectivity within one of the most heavily trafficked transportation corridors in the country,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

A “Notice to Proceed” was also recently given to start mobilization on the Tonnelle Avenue Bridge and Utility Relocation project, which will mark the beginning of the Hudson Tunnel Project in New Jersey.

The Gateway Program has seen significant additional progress in recent months. Construction of the new Portal North Bridge, led by NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak, recently passed the 35 percent completion mark, and key elements of the Hudson Tunnel Project have advanced, including:

  • The Hudson Tunnel Project entered the Engineering Phase of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program, making the project eligible for $6.88 billion in federal grants.
  • GDC was selected for a $25 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for construction of the Tonnelle Avenue Bridge and Utility Relocation Project.
  • USDOT’s Build America Bureau is advancing applications for Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loans to support the Hudson Tunnel Project.

Five out of nine contemplated Hudson Tunnel Project contracts are in procurement or construction.

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